In June I learned some very powerful lessons in Memphis from watching the QAC in action.
Morgan, Cale, Suzie, Alex and the others strove to “speak truth to power” without hurting anyone, especially Zach and the other LIA/R victims/participants. They also made it clear from the beginning that their intentions were never to shut down LIA, rather to speak out against an injustice that was being done to young people.
I remember when a cameraman from ABC wanted footage of Zach leaving the LIA facility. He badgered the protesters who stood in the line as he attempted to find out what Zach’s family car looked like and repeatedly asked about Zach’s last name (this was before Joe Stark outed his family on CBN).
The QAC refused to budge. They did not in anyway wish to hurt or exploit Zach and the other participants.
I think in the same spirit, even though LIA’s lawsuit lists the locations of its two residential facilities, I suggest we leave those facilities alone. Hold no protests there, no obvious drivebys, etc.
I hear bloggers’ and commenters’ frustration about LIA/R still being open (I think it is frustration) and it will be echoed in lots of people as this story continues to break in blogs and the news. Some may wish to rise up and setup camp outside of the LIA residential facilities.
I’m sure most LIA survivors would agree with me that when we live in the LIA “ex-gay” cottage on Davidson Road (or any of the other homes scattered around Memphis) the last thing we wanted was any attention from the outside world. (Unless perhaps they were cute guys hanging around shirtless 🙂 We lived in shame and fear; a bunch of protesters would only confirm the slander we were hearing about the agressive and thoughtless gay community seeking to devour us.
This is now a legal battle. The state of TN presented its finding to its investigation. LIA countered with a lawsuit. The most important thing now is that the state of TN does not cave in light of the costs and the bother of a trial. For that reason, we need to continue to speak truth to power.
In fact, if I could have my dream come true, it would not be that LIA closes down. Rather it would be that John Smid and the other staff seriously question what they do, sit down and listen to the 400 people who have been through their doors since 1994 and see the sort of damage they do in their program (even if their intentions are good). Then in response to what they witness they seek a new way to reach out to same-gender loving and queer people–a way that would genuinely help the community and no longer harm individuals in it.
Perhaps we need to have a truth and reconciliation truth-sharing event where LIA staff get to hear from scores of participants about our experiences in and since LIA. Perhaps like Jeremy Marks and the former “ex-gay” Courage Organization, LIA will respond thoughtfully, lovingly and honestly and create a gay affirming organization that actually helps same-gender loving and other queer people.
Perhaps they shall know the truth and the truth will set them free.
Perhaps. Perhaps. Perhaps.